The subject of the influence of a coach’s decisions on match outcomes is now a talking point in coaching circles. That wasn’t always the case in the past. For many years the assumption was that coaching interventions (timeouts, subs, etc.) without doubt influence outcomes. This is the coaching mythology. The research challenges that mythology.
Examples of this come from Mark Lebedew. He did a basic study based on the question of whether timeouts in any way influence the likelihood of the server missing their serve. In other words, are servers more likely to miss after a timeout. This is believed by many coaches. Confirmation bias is likely a factor here, though.
A while back Mark also wrote about some research into whether timeouts impact the next point. That piece was was based on some findings from basketball which suggest they are actually counterproductive. Not content to stop there, Mark followed up with additional posts here, here, here, here, here, and here. A researcher in a presentation at the 2016 AVCA convention also took on the subject of timeout effectiveness.
This research is definitely a good start. That’s all it is for the moment, though. I’d like to go down some other research paths with respect to volleyball. What do you think? What question(s) do you have?
There’s an academic paper worth having a look at titled Skill Importance in Women’s Volleyball. Based on analysis of data from the 2006 BYU Women’s team, it looks at most of volleyball’s primary skills. I got hold of it as part of the discussion surrounding the It’s best to set the ball tight post. It also came up in the discussion of defense around the What’s the objective of defense in volleyball? post. This analysis is apparently the basis for the USA teams favoring sets off the net, and passes as well.
Be warned, the paper is academic, so it’s quite technical in many ways. One of the more interesting aspects of it is the list of references. It includes several evaluations of skills from different competitions.
It is important to understand that academic analysis of this nature can be quite reliant on the involved methodologies. Further, how the researcher collects and prepares the data is important. I should know. After all, I worked on just that sort of thing for my PhD. Also, this study includes only one team in one season. As such, it may be picking up things which are specific to that squad (idiosyncratic).
Short-coming aside, it is always good to understand the parts of the game which are the most important in your team’s success. That’s part of what motivated studies like this one and this one.